Toddler Having World’s First 3-D-Printed Artificial Kidney Transplant

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Three-year-old Lucy Boucher from Northern Island is the first child to receive an adult kidney transplant using 3-D printing.

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Lucy suffered a heart failure at 4 months old, which damaged her kidneys due to lack of oxygen. She was put on dialysis until she’s old enough to undergo a transplant.

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Chris, 35, Lucy’s father donated his kidney to save his daughter’s life.

A detailed model of the donor’s kidney and Lucy’s midsection were created using a 3-D printer. According to the surgeons at London’s Guy’s and St. Thomas’ and Great Ormond Street Hospital, the 3-D models would help them map out the operation with accuracy that would minimize risks during the transplant.

The surgery took place in November and was declared a success. Both father and daughter were in recovery.

According to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, “It is the first time in the world that 3-D printing has been used to aid kidney transplant surgery involving an adult donor and a child recipient.”

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Chris said, “My first reaction when I saw the 3-D printout of my kidney was surprise at how big it was and I wondered how it could possibly fit into Lucy. Seeing the model of her abdomen and the way the kidney was going to be transplanted inside her gave me a clear understanding of exactly what was going to happen.”

The toddler’s mother, Ciara, was also shocked when she first saw the 3-D printout, saying, “We found it amazing that we could see these incredibly detailed models of Chris’s kidney and Lucy’s abdomen.

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“Considering all the potential complications, it’s fantastic that everything has gone so well. It’s a massive relief. The transplant is life-changing for Lucy,” Ciara added.

The hospital purchased the 3-D printer in August in order to help with conducting organ transplant, especially the difficult ones.

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Mr. Pankaj Chandak, a specialist in transplant surgery at Guy’s and St. Thomas’, said, “This type of surgery is especially complex. The 3-D printing of the donor’s kidney and the child’s blood vessels will assist the surgical team ahead of the operation and will increase the chances of the transplant being a success.”

Now several hospitals use 3-D orinting to aid surgeries especially for complex operations like hip replacements and organ transplants.

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In 2014, the technology was used by a surgeon to make a new pelvis for a patient who had lost one to terminal cancer.

In April 2015, Organovo, a bioprinting company, started selling 3-D printouts of the first human kidney cell tissue to researchers to be used for drug testing.

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